Anthony Joshua makes his long-awaited US boxing debut this weekend, taking on Andy Ruiz, Jr, a Mexican-America fighter who fought Joseph Parker for the vacant WBO Heavyweight title back in 2016. Ruiz lost that fight by close decision and while it remains the only loss of his career, there aren’t many people (apart from himself and his camp) who are backing the 29-year-old to win.
Looking at the two of them, the difference is stark. Underneath shoulders dripping with championship belts, Joshua is lean, muscular and four inches taller. While 6ft 2 is nothing to sniff at, Luiz has a physique that is more akin to Butterbean than Mike Tyson… but then Butterbean had proper KO power, no matter what he looked like. With nothing to lose and everything to gain (including three of the four main championship belts), Ruiz will be hoping for a fairy tale.
It’s a bit of a tall story as to how Ruiz comes to be here in the first place. Joshua was supposed to be fighting Dillian Whyte, but Whyte bailed on the opportunity in February because he felt the purse was too light. A replacement was found in the form of Jarrel Miller and the venue changed from Wembley to Madison Square Gardens. Then in mid-April, it was found that Miller had failed a drug test and was would not compete. Of the 16 heavyweights that apparently put their names forward as replacements, Joshua chose Ruiz.
If anyone was wondering where Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder are in this conversation, then you are not the only ones. Wilder won’t face Joshua this year, preferring to take a rematch with Luis Ortiz in the autumn, while Fury is expected to face Dillian Whyte at around the same time. Apparently, holding the belts and titles isn’t the draw it used to be…
Anthony Joshua (1/100)
Joshua is an absolutely massive favourite for this fight, and it’s not hard to see why. As well as four inches of height, he’s got eight inches of reach and about a foot less around the waist. He is ranked as the world’s best active heavyweight by several key institutions, including Ring magazine and Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. In gambling terms, it’s barely worth betting on Joshua to win. Betting on when and/or how he will win is much more interesting. A first round victory pick for Joshua will get you 19/2 at time of writing; or you could select round 12 at odds of 33/1. Really, it’s more a question of ‘when’, not ‘if’.
Andy Ruiz Jr (12/1)
That said, Ruiz knows he’s got a huge opportunity here, not just to cause a massive upset, but also a second chance at bringing his dream to life – that of being the first heavyweight of Mexican descent to win a title. As with any combat sport, one big punch could end it, so it’s well worth a flutter. With 21 KOs to his name, Ruiz is certainly capable of this. For a real gamble, pick a round for Ruiz to win. Doesn’t matter which one: he’s at 100/1 for all of them.
Also on the card…
While the wait for Anthony Joshua to unify all the heavyweight belts drags on and on, the card on Saturday night (Sunday morning) opens with exactly that – a unification bout and the chance for Ireland’s Katie Taylor collect her fifth and final lightweight belt if she can beat Delfine Persoon. Persoon has been champ for five years and has a record of 43-1. Despite this, the bookies have given Taylor 20/1, an even bigger margin than Joshua.
Don’t forget to take advantage of our great Boosts for this fight. They’re available until 2.00am, so don’t forget to make them! (max. stake applies)